It’s hot — especially in layers of personal protection gear — and the line of cars keeps coming for three hours. In between tests, nurses adjust each other’s gear and stand in front of a fan if there’s enough time.
The cars actually started long before the COVID-19 testing began at Cornelia Jackson Memorial Park in Woodbine. About 20 cars were waiting at 7:45 a.m. when health department staff arrived to set up the first drive-thru testing site in Camden County on Tuesday morning.
All told, nurses tested 152 people in those hours before they packed up and headed to McIntosh County for another three hours of testing. Each sample was added to a cooler throughout testing, then handed off to a courier at the end of the day to be driven through the night to the Atlanta area for testing, according to Todd Wyckoff, who directs emergency preparedness for the Coastal Health District.
The health department plans to host testing weekly in Camden County, though that may change depending on the availability of tests. Testing is free, no appointment is needed and walk-ups or drive-ups are permitted. The next drive-thru testing will be open from noon to 3:30 p.m. Monday, May 11, at Woodbine Elementary School.
A testing site is also available seven days a week in Brunswick but appointments are required. To get an appointment, call the testing center hotline at (912) 230-9744. Calls are answered from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Camden had 34 confirmed cases and one death as of 2 p.m. Wednesday. Two patients at the St. Marys Senior Care Center and one staff member have also tested positive.
Special units of the Georgia National Guard have been dispatched across the state to help with testing and disinfecting long-term care facilities. Camden took advantage of that help, county emergency management director Chuck White said, to have the guard’s infection control team sanitize the senior care center and assisted living facilities and provide guidance on best practices.
In the last week, St. Marys and Kingsland partially reopened city offices to the public with some modifications. St. Marys is taking temperatures and screening anyone who enters city hall. Kingsland is manning the payment window at the welcome center and working to install safety equipment to further open offices.
“Remember, we are not out of the woods yet,” Kingsland Mayor Grayson Day wrote in a May 3 letter to citizens. “I encourage you to continue to practice social distancing as you are able and maintain increased sanitation and hygienic vigilance. Our citizens’ well-being lies in our collective hands. Let’s keep them clean!”
Cumberland Island National Seashore has also partially reopened to visitors. The ferry is not running but private boats can access the island and bathrooms on the south end are open.
“This has been a very difficult time for our community, our families and our world,” island superintendent Gary Ingram said in a release. “The park is thrilled to be able to take this small step forward with the hope it will help provide some with an opportunity to find peace and joy in visiting the seashore.”